TODAY   |  February 27, 2014

Fugitive Ukrainian president: I’m still leader

Ukraine’s political crisis is spreading this morning as dozens of pro-Russia gunmen seized control of local government buildings in the Crimea region. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> very volatile situation in ukraine. natalie to you.

>> now we're hearing the first words from the ousted president, viktor yanukovych . richard engel is in kiev with the very latest. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. in a statement released simultaneously to russia media, viktor yanukovych claimed he is still president and asked for protection from russia . his location was not disclosed but he may already be under the protection of russia , this as tensions have increased nearly the russian border. russian flags flying over the regional parliament this morning, put there after pro-russian gunmen took control of the building overnight. they want this region part of ukraine near the russian border to join with russia . russia has military bases here. it's huge. black sea fleet is based there. russia said it will act uncompromisingly to defend its interest. russia put its air force on alert and began six days of war games near the border. 150,000 ground troops and heavy weapons. russian media described them as the biggest war begins since the soviet era . the sus watching closely and warning russia not to seize ukrainian territory or reimpose the ousted ukrainian pro- russian president . secretary kerry spoke with andrea mitchell .

>> mr. putin should listen carefully to ukrainians who have voiced their desire for change. we're hoping that russia will not see this as a continuation of the cold war . we don't see it that way.

>> the acting ukrainian government has warned russia against military aggression and add russian forces to stay on their base.